Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rant of the Day

Today, I feel like ranting.  

Lately, I've been seeing this picture floating around the Interwebs:

Let me 'splain to you why, exactly, this is the dumbest "case" ever.

So, this is Mimi Kirk.  In this video, she was 71 years old.  She is a raw food vegan.

This is Donald Watson, the creator of veganism, hiking to a mountaintop in his mid-90's.  

This is Jack Lalanne at age 93.   He promoted a vegetarian diet and did not believe humans needed milk or meat.

This is Mike Mahler.  He's been vegan for years and years and years and looks pretty darn good (almost 40 years old).

This is my friend Ken Blackburn, vegetarian, and looking rather fabulous at 41 (he's the big, bald dude-- not the little white puppy):

This is Melody Schoenfeld.  She'll be 40 in less than 2 years.  She's been vegan for almost 12 years.

 So, seriously, what's your point?

 These guys are all carnivores:

And these guys are all vegetarians:

And you know what?  I wouldn't mess with any of 'em.

Here's my point:

There is more than one way to do things, and this goes quintuply (is that a word?) for nutrition and fitness.  Anyone who tells you that their way is the best/only way is someone not worth listening to.  Everyone's body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

So, does being vegan mean that you're doomed to a life of weakness, flabbiness, and wrinkly skin?   Clearly not-- just as being a meat-eater does not guarantee you the fountain of youth and huge muscles.   If it works for you, do it.  If it doesn't, find what does.  But, holy crap, stop with the giant generalizations.  It's ignorant, it's annoying, and it's wrong.

/end rant

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!


  1. If I am not mistaken, Jack ate fish, right?

  2. You're right-- on second checking, he did (following is an excerpt from an interview he did). But he did promote a veg lifestyle for the most part.

    Share Guide: In your book you mention that you were a vegetarian at one point for 6 years.

    Jack LaLanne: I was a strict vegetarian. Then I decided to enter a Mr. America contest (which I won) and in those days they thought that in order to build muscle you had to have meat. So I ate meat for a while.

    Share Guide: Why did you stop being a strict vegetarian?

    Jack LaLanne: In those days everybody was saying that you had to eat meat to build muscle, so I went on a meat thing for awhile. NowI only eat fish--no chicken, no turkey, just fish. I get all my protein from fish and egg whites.

    Share Guide: That is what my favorite healing authority says, Dr. Andrew Weil. He believes in eating fish and dairy on top of the vegetarian diet--the vegaquarian diet.

    Jack LaLanne: I use no milk of any kind. Anything that comes from a cow I don't eat.

    Share Guide: You aren't eating nonfat yogurt with your fruit anymore?

    Jack LaLanne: I may take one bite. Or a little skim milk once in a while is not going to hurt you. It isn't what you do once in a while that's a problem; it's what you do all the time. Look at the average American diet: ice cream, butter, cheese, whole milk, all this fat. People don't realize how much of this stuff you get by the end of the day. High blood pressure is from all this high-fat eating. Do you know how many calories are in butter and cheese and ice cream? Would you get your dog up in the morning for a cup of coffee and a donut? Probably millions of Americans got up this morning with a cup of coffee, a cigarette and a donut. No wonder they are sick and fouled up.

  3. Though I have long since abandoned my vegan ways I remain of the mind that one can thrive on a vegan diet, you just can't do what most do and become a wheat-a-tarian. Which you clearly are not.

  4. Thanks, Jordan. Could not have said it better myself.

  5. Great post and interesting comments. Essentially, Melody, I agree almost 100% with your points. Here's my take:

    Man is not an obligate carnivore like the members of the cat family. Rather, we are opportunistic omnivores, adapted to seeking out and thriving on whatever is plentiful at the time and place. Yes, there are plants, eg deadly nightshade, which birds can handle raw but we can't. There are many fungi that we find toxic. So I concede that it's not as if we can eat absolutely anything without fatal consequences. In that respect, pigs and goats would appear to beat us in the omnivorous championships.

    If you want to look at the world's healthiest populace, then you don't need to look back to the prehistorical past of our palaeolithic ancestors. Instead, look at the oldest Okinawans who grew up pre-WW2. They have the highest number of centenarians pro rata. The have the lowest rates of cancer, including breast cancer and prostate cancer, in the Japanese archipelago, which itself has rates of BC, T2D, obesity and CHD far lower than that in the USA, which has amongst the highest rates of BC in the world (1,2).

    Why is this? It's not genetic, because the younger generation of Okinawans growing up on Big Macs and other junk food has similar rates of Western illnesses to Westerners (1,2). The clue is in the older generation's very low energy inputs, their high daily energy expenditure, and possibly the role played by the large quantity of the local variety of sweet potato (high in starch by the way for those anti-carb fanatics out there) that older Okinawans traditionally consumed (1,2). The problem is that Homo by nature is a lazy glutton, and doesn't want to hear that by cutting drastically back on daily energy intake and similarly increasing energy expenditure, he might be able to do something to help himself. (1) Caloric Restriction, the Traditional Okinawan Diet, and Healthy Aging The Diet of the World's Longest-Lived People and Its Potential Impact on Morbidity and Life Span; Willcox BJ et al; Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1114: 434-455 (2007); doi: 10.1196/annals.1396.037. (2) The Okinawan Diet: Health Implications of a Low-Calorie, Nutrient-Dense, Antioxidant-Rich Dietary Pattern Low in Glycemic Load; Willcox DC et al; Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 28, No. 4, 500S-516S (2009).

  6. Last point, left to my own devices, my diet consists almost entirely of wheat that I use to bake my own bread. Why? Partly because I'm cheap - I don't like spending money unnecessarily, because by overspending we become slaves to others. When times are hard, I can live on my diet for less than $10 a week if I choose to. I’m in my fifties now, and can still easily run quickly (by most folks’ standards) for three hours or more without respite, do multiple reps of sixty full press-ups, each in less than a minute, etc.

    Secondly, because even though they're not as healthy as the Okinawans, many cultures live on cultivars of grasses: wheat; rye; oats; barley; and rice. The Mediterranean diet, and many Eastern diets are grain based. Traditionally, peoples of these cultures are much healthier than your average Yank stuffing the typical American diet down his maw.

    Here's what most anti-grass (aka anti- cereals fanatics) miss. Many folks who consume large amounts of wheat also consume copious quantities of added sucrose; added fructose in the form of high-fructose glucose syrup, rather than by eating fruits; copious quantities of meat, red and white; copious quantities of fat, saturated and unsaturated; copious quantities of alcohol and tobacco and other permitted recreational drugs. Then, like my mother now diabetic, they turn around and complain that it's the CARBS! Or, it's the WHEAT! No, I tell my mother, it’s that you’re a greedy fat pig who has abused your body for most of your life, never takes any proper exercise and now you want to find something to blame, anything, other than yourself.

  7. Excellent points, Colenso. Thank you.